Families relive local history

2015-09-29 06:00
This year marks the fiftieth anniversary since the first forced removals from Simon’s Town. Areas such as Luyolo, which housed the families of workers who had moved to Simon’s Town to build the railway to Kalk Bay, were affected. 


This year marks the fiftieth anniversary since the first forced removals from Simon’s Town. Areas such as Luyolo, which housed the families of workers who had moved to Simon’s Town to build the railway to Kalk Bay, were affected. PHOTO: simon’s

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“It was not nice. Some people were crying. But we had no choice.”

Fifty years ago, Nomvula Mamputa said goodbye to her childhood home in Luyolo, on the slopes behind Simon’s Town.

Mamputa still remembers the day she had to leave her home and move to Gugulethu at the age of 16.

Her family was one of the first to be forcibly removed from Simon’s Town under the Group Areas Act.

This year, a Heritage Day event organised by the Simon’s Town Museum commemorated the fiftieth anniversary of her family and others’ forced removals from the area.

Mamputa’s extended family lived in eight homes in Luyolo, a township established in the early 1900s for workers from the Eastern Cape who were extending the rail line from Simon’s Town to Kalk Bay. About 1500 people lived there at the time of the forced removals in 1965.

She was the third generation to be born in the township after her great-grandparents moved here from Graaff Reinet.

“We were told: ‘Next week you’re moving out’. There was no time to pack and we had to leave furniture, our stove, chickens and goats behind,” she recalls.

Mamputa’s brother Morris remembers life in Luyolo – meaning “happy place” – as being carefree. “In summer, you could sleep outside under the stars. When it was hot, we used to just go down to the beach,” he says.

Despite moving to Gugulethu, Mamputa’s mother and grandmother still had to commute daily to their jobs in Fish Hoek and Kalk Bay respectively. “They used to have to leave at 04:00 on the first train. They would only come home after 18:00 or 19:00, when it was already dark,” Mamputa recalls.

After the relocations, all the homes in Luyolo were demolished. Today, there is little more than a wall and toilet left. “There is only a toilet between the bushes now. There is not even a road anymore. It hurts,” Mamputa says. “We had a nice life there. We had a warm home. It was a happy place,” she says.

During the next five years, coloured and black residents from Simon’s Town and surrounding areas such as Noordhoek and Red Hill were relocated to areas such as Ocean View and Retreat.

Last week’s Heritage Day event included the laying of a wreath at the forced removals monument in Jubilee Square.

First to moveOthers who experienced these forced removals also spoke at the Heritage Day event last week.

Lily Lawrence was forced to relocate from Red Hill to Ocean View in 1970 with her husband and four children. “We were one of the first to move and were assigned a flat in Rosedene Court,” she recalls. “We didn’t get any warning. Letters were sent to us, keys arrived and we had to move with what little we had.”

The family had to leave behind furniture that couldn’t be carried up stairs, which included their cast iron stove, Lawrence says. They also had to leave their pets, a cat and a dog, behind.

“It was so sad. Families got separated. You used to be able to look out and see beautiful scenery and people in Red Hill. It was never the same. It took a long time to settle in Ocean View.”

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